State ethics director under ethics investigation

The state ethics commission voted to conduct an independent investigation of the man who heads the ethics agency.

Sources tell our FOX 5 I-Team at least two employees complained about Stefan Ritter’s workplace behavior, including an allegation that he had porn on his state computer.

Senior FOX 5 I-Team reporter Dale Russell has covered Ritter's career for more than a decade and was there when the vote was taken.

Nearly four years ago, longtime government attorney Stefan Ritter was brought in to clean house at the troubled state ethics commission

In 2015, Ritter was an assistant attorney general working with the commission, when the commission voted to fire ethics executive secretary Holly LaBerge. The reason: a Fulton County judge sanctioned LaBerge and fined her $10,000 saying she had been "dishonest and nontransparent" during a whistleblower lawsuit filed by her predecessor.

But, now Stefan Ritter, who was brought in to revamp the agency, is facing his own workplace controversy.

“At this stage they are allegations and we're going to investigate the veracity of the allegations,” SAYS Ethics commission chairman Jake Evans.

Evans says a few weeks ago complaints were lodged against Stefan Ritter regarding his behavior in the office. An internal investigation was conducted, and an emergency meeting was called.  The commission voted unanimously to conduct a full investigation.

“Based upon allegations of improper workplace conduct, I move to commence an investigation of allegations, and place Mr. Stefan Ritter on administrative leave with pay,” says Evans.

According to sources familiar with the case, at least two ethics department employees filed written complaints alleging - among other allegations - Ritter had porn on his state computer and often failed to show up for work.

“At this stage, we are going to commence an independent investigation and retain an outside law firm to ensure it is fairly and properly done,” says Evans.

Ritter says he was surprised. “I haven't even seen any allegations. It's puzzling to me,” says Ritter.

Ritter, who worked for over a decade as an assistant attorney general before taking over the ethics agency has been credited with cleaning up the troubled agency, reducing backlogs, and helping get raises for staff.

Now, he is fighting for his political life.

Russell:  Do you have any comments on the allegations?
Ritter:    They are incorrect. I will address issues later. Thank you, Dale.

Ethics commission Chairman Jake Evans was asked if he had a deadline or timetable for when the investigation would be complete. He said, as soon as we can.